Free class teaches coding for beginners

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Every computer has “genies” that will obey your commands. But you have to know how to give your command to the genie so it will do exactly what you instructed. Giving these instructions so that the computer will understand you is called coding

A free mini-course in coding will be given at the Rockville Senior Center on Fridays, June 9, 16 and 23, from 1 to 3 p.m. each day. The course is for people who want to learn about coding, but have no idea where to start.

Taking this course will enable you to make your own creations appear on the computer screen — from art, to science, to theater, to games. The type of coding program used in the course is called Scratch.

Coding is a tool that will empower you. It is like learning a language, but one that has the power to issue commands to a computer.

Programming stretches and exercises the mind. It is like the difference between watching sports and actually engaging in sports. Logic, problem solving and organization are some of the cornerstones of programming, and practicing with code helps you exercise your brain.

Just as there are many human languages, there are many languages invented to give commands to computers. Scratch is one of these languages. However, Scratch was designed to allow young (and old) to learn coding as easily as possible.

Scratch is a free visual programming language developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Scratch lets you learn coding online, for free. Instead of typing lines of text, as you do with traditional coding, you drag colored blocks and join them together to build programs.

Although it is a fairly simple programming language, Scratch lets you create a large range of projects — from computer-generated art and animated cartoons, to quizzes, puzzles, simple arcade games and more.

With Scratch, you can create animated graphics and sound in a few minutes, and can see results almost instantly. This allows for easy incremental refinements, which is the essence of good programming.

To get a head start, access the program at https://scratch.mit.edu/.

To sign up for the course, go to https://rockenroll.rockvillemd.gov and put Coding for Beginners – 59172 in the search box. Or call (240) 314-8800 for assistance.

The Rockville Senior Center is located at 1150 Carnation Dr., Rockville, Md.